Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Okehampton ... once the beating heart of Devon

Okehampton is the town just down the road that we pass through on our regular trips to Cornwall. It sits on the edge of Dartmoor, and perhaps it's because it's on our own back door that we've never really taken the trouble to explore it properly. Does that make sense ? Am I the only person who's got an irrational tendency to overlook what's within easy striking-distance of home in favour of gallivanting off to far-flung places? I guess far-away fields always look greener ... .

Now as it happens Okehampton is a town with a lot of things to boast about, but it's a modest place that doesn't really shout much about its attractions. There's a medieval motte and bailey castle, St. James' Church, a Tudor Chapel of Ease, there's a museum of Dartmoor life, a very fine 19th century railway bridge, the Meldon Viaduct, spanning the ravine of the Okement River and, just outside of town in the beautiful village of Sticklepath there's an amazing, fully working blacksmith's forge with all the latest water-powered kit from the early days of the Industrial Revolution. I've already written about it here: Finch Forge.

Okehampton Castle, Devon

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Finch Foundry, Sticklepath, Devon ...

The other day we were keen to go exploring, but the weather didn't look great and, having got a good soaking on our supposedly rain-proof trip to the Levant Mine in Cornwall, we wanted to play things safe and not stray too far from home. So we decided to mosey on down the road to the pretty little village of Sticklepath, not far from Okehampton in Devon.

My father's grandfather (my great grandfather) was a blacksmith back in Ireland, so my father was interested to see the last working water-powered forge in England. And it proved to be a thing of wonder, which was way above and beyond anything that my ancestor ever operated.

Finch Foundry, Sticklepath, Devon

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Grandma's Apple Pie

The apples aren't ready to harvest yet, but things are shaping up for a good crop when the autumn comes. As we were admiring them the other day my mum suggested we pick a few of the Bramley apples for an early apple pie. We found a windfall or two to add to the mix as well, so that it didn't feel too sinful to harvest baby apples that haven't had a chance to reach their prime.

Every year when they're ready we have a glut of apples, way too many and all at the same time. So in a way it makes sense to use a few now to make an early season apple pie.

Just read on for my mother's recipe:

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Corn in the barley field ...

One of the many things I love about being in Devon in July is our after late evening stroll. We've got a lovely barley field just outside, which makes a great place to go to walk off our dinner-time excesses. As the sun sets, we enjoy the magical light of twilight. And whilst the weather hasn't been brilliant in recent days it always seems to get itself sorted out by dusk, allowing the sun to set in a relatively cloudless sky.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Levant Mine and Beam Engine, Cornwall ...

Yesterday morning started well, but clouded over in line with what the weathermen had told us would happen. We had set ourselves up, however, to outsmart the weather. Our rain-proof day out involved travelling down to Pendeen, near St. Just in Cornwall to see an ancient copper mine with a working steam engine, which had sounded really, really interesting ... to Emi and my father.

A mine (underground - and in this case one with workings that crept out for over a mile under the sea) a steam engine and lots of mine housings: what could possibly go wrong with our rain-proof plans?

Levant Mine Buildings, Cornwall